Match-winner Powell insists Latics are still believing

Latics players celebrate Nick Powell's goal
Latics players celebrate Nick Powell's goal

Nick Powell toasted his ‘most important free-kick’ that secured a last-gasp victory over Rotherham - and kept alive Wigan Athletic’s survival hopes.

The ex-Manchester United man was making his first appearance since early January after recovering from a hamstring problem.

I’ve scored more important goals, but I’ve never scored a more important free kick

Nick Powell

After coming off the bench with 16 minutes to go and Latics staring relegation in the eyes, Powell smashed home a 20-yard free-kick in the sixth added minute to clinch a five-goal thriller.

“I’ve scored more important goals, but I’ve never scored a more important free kick,” acknowledged Powell.

“I’m not very good at free kicks usually...

“If we hadn’t scored the goal, we’d obviously have kept trying for the rest of the season, but it would have been very tough.

“If it had finished 2-2 I think that would have have been us down, done.

“All you can do is keep fighting. We’re still fighting. We still believe.”

Powell was involved in the remarkable incident that led to the free-kick, with Rotherham goalkeeper Lewis Price booting the ball downfield before somehow ending up on the back of the Latics man, before a bout of handbags led to the officials getting involved.

“I nudged him because he was taking the mickey a little earlier, and they’re playing for nothing, so hopefully that would be the end of it,” Powell explained.

“Then he kicked it the ball and just jumped on my back. I just thought he was being an idiot.

“We didn’t exchange words. It’s just the fact that he jumped on me, which I wasn’t happy about.

“I flung him off and then we kind of squared up to each other.

“After, we were fine. I think it was the heat of the moment, and we were both angry, for the same reason - that we weren’t winning.

“I’ve no argument with him. But he’s cost them the game. He gave us the goal. If it was our keeper, we’d be fuming.”

Latics interim boss Graham Barrow could not hide his utter bemusement having watched the whole incident unfold from the technical area.

“I think Nick looked a bit frustrated, and he sort of grabbed the goalkeeper as he picked the ball up,” Barrow assessed.

“They seemed to be quite pally, and then the referee intervened.

“I actually turned away, and then somebody’s told me what’s happened.

“I spoke to Mike Pollitt (Rotherham’s goalkeeping coach) after, and they’re fuming with their goalkeeper, and actually thought he was lucky to stay on the pitch.

“When you saw the position the free-kick was given in, I knew we had the right man on the pitch who could execute the kick.

“Out of the whole squad, Nick was the one we wanted stood over the ball at that moment in time.

“If I was a betting man, I’d probably have put some money on him scoring.

“I’d say the odds would have been 75 per cent on him scoring - I just know the quality he’s got.

“He’s a class act.”